Karrie Webb birdied the 11th through the 14th holes during the final round of the HSBC Women's Champions--part of an 8-hole par-free stretch starting on the 9th hole in which she made 6 birdies and 2 bogeys--to wrest the lead from Chie Arimura after the JLPGA star bogeyed both par 3s on the back 9, at the start and end of Webb's birdie train. But in the end it was a pair of pars for the Hall of Famer, on her 71st and 72nd holes, that sealed her 37th career LPGA victory by a shot over Arimura, -13 to -12.
Earlier in the round, world #1 Ya Ni Tseng had made things even more interesting by firing a bogey-free 31 on the front to get to double digits under par and to put the lead within her grasp. But bogeys on 10 and 12 made her birdies on 13 and 16 too little, too late, for her 5th win in her 5th start of 2011. Still, her 67 left her alone in 3rd at -10, 2 shots ahead of Sun Young Yoo (69), 3 shots ahead of Morgan Pressel (68), and 4 shots ahead of Na Yeon Choi (71). Even though Tseng matched Ai Miyazato's winning score last year, Webb and Arimura's brilliance this week ensured she wouldn't match Miyazato's feat of opening the LPGA season with 2 straight wins.
As for Ai-sama, she needed an eagle on the short par-4 16th to salvage her 2nd 74 of the week and end the tournament at E (T14 with Brittany Lincicome, who shot a 73). They got passed by Song-Hee Kim (70), Amy Yang (70), and Ji-Yai Shin (71) at -1 and Stacy Lewis (70) and Cristie Kerr (72) at -2, but none of them could chase down a resurgent Catriona Matthew (70) at -3, much less In-Kyung Kim, who bounced back from an early double with 5 birdies in her 1st 10 holes, but bogeyed 4 of her last 8 to end up alone in 7th at -4.
In the end, though, the day belonged to Webb, who showed the LPGA's Young Guns a thing or 2 about winning in style. While #37 can't possibly be as significant as her 7 majors, I can't think of a non-major victory in the last 8 years as big as this one is for her. From 1996-2002, these kinds of wins were pretty much par for the course for Webb, who never won less than twice in a season in that stretch and snagged 28 in all; except for 2005, though, when she won 5 times, she hasn't had a multiple-win season ever since. I can't wait to see all the fireworks from today's round--and to see what Webb does for an encore the rest of the season!
[Update 1 (9:40 am): Here are Ruthless Mike and Hound Dog on the final-round action.]
[Update 2 (7:42 pm): Here's Brent Kelley on Webb's win and career.]
[Update 3 (7:45 pm): Here's bangkokbobby with a focus on how close Arimura came to changing her career and life!]
[Update 4 (7:49 pm): And here's Ryan Ballengee.]